This is the final chapter of my trip to Beijing, China thanks to Lenovo. The main Tech World component was done, but we still had exciting tourist things to do ahead of us.
Day 5 started with another buffet breakfast and a bus trip headed towards the one thing every tourist to China does – visit the Great Wall.
A rather uneventful ride took us to our destination. When we arrived, they’d of course built the wall on top of mountains which is less convenient for us to get to. Instead of trekking up the mountain thankfully, we had the modern luxury of catching a chairlift up. Carrying my backpack up like an infant attached to my front, the ascent took us right up to the wall. There’s roughly 8 kilometres left of the once 10 kilometre wall, and different parts have been repaired at different times so it’s hard to know if you’re looking at something new or old – but either way, it still felt ancient.
I’m not a selfies person, but since I’d wandered off by myself I gave it a shot. I couldn’t find the ‘beautify’ setting, apologies for that.
The Great Wall itself (for me at least) felt more overwhelming than the other ancient sites I’d visited – probably because I knew the most about it -and in my own head, I’m imagining Chinese soldiers patrolling the wall, watching out for the Mongols… probably incredibly inaccurately compared to the reality of what happened, but it was still a great experience and place to put myself into.
I took a moment to have chocolate bars and an iced coffee at the side of the wall, and bartered to buy a Great Wall shirt.
The way down from the Great Wall sounded a lot more fun – via toboggan! Except it was a little less fun than I’d hoped – not really built for an inflexible 6 foot person, with other tourists going incredibly slow or just stopping for a while. Still, it was an experience I won’t forget. Also at the bottom was the “Great Wall Supermarket” – a name that matches my own creativity when naming something (like this blog). Subway and Baskin Robbins ice-cream was also available – I can see why the Mongols wanted to get over that wall.
We headed back on the bus, and took the long trip all the way back to where we started, and to the Forbidden City. It was about to close it’s entry gates, so we had to run farther and faster than I’ve run for a very long time to make it in. The almost-heart-attack was worth it though, to get an idea how important and historical this aptly named City was, start diving into the rabbit hole that is Wikipedia.
It was then time for our final dinner together, at another fancy restraunt and lazy susan driven experience at ‘DaDong’. This was the first time on the trip we actually got to have Peking Duck, and was the most impressively presented meal of the trip. The photos will do a lot more than my words:
One strange dish we had was of Geoduck clam – which sounds fairly innocent, until you perform a Google Images search of what one actually looks like. I personally wasn’t a fan of it before seeing these images, and after seeing what I’d eaten, my opinion had definitely not altered.
AFter dinner and heading back to the hotel for a final round of drinks, we our goodbyes – not knowing if we’d ever have the pleasure of seeing each other again, but hopeful that another Lenovo event would bring us together. Thankfully that thing called the ‘internet’ lets us continue to be in contact with ease.
Day 6 – My final day in China was the first time I didn’t have someone telling me where to go and what to do – a bit daunting in a country full of people that much more often than not, can’t speak English. Inconvenient for someone who only speaks English, I still headed off with Arthur and Onica to the Beijing Zoo.
Yes we saw Pandas, Monkeys and Cheetas, along with many other animals – the zoo was fairly spacious and there seemed to be a lot of room for the inhabitants which was good to see.
We found the Beijing Aquarium inside the zoo, at a much higher price – but after going in, I could see why. The single highlight by far were the Beluga whales. They spent their time playing with some floating objects they’d been given, dragging them down to the bottom of the exhibit and playfully letting them go back up to the surface of the water again. Plenty of other aquatic animals were on display too – so many jellyfish – definitely worth a visit.
Arthur and Onica had to catch their flights home, so I was left by myself. I’d decided I was going to try shopping and had several choices of where to go. I didn’t go to the bartering markets (which I sort of regret – but it leaves something if I go back again and I was limited on time) but instead went to an upper end shopping street in the Xicheng District. A bunch of department stores with snickered pricing; no bartering. I found most of it was brand name clothing, with pricing more expensive than what I could get in Australia! I did find a small tech area in one of the many department buildings (which are much harder to navigate when you can’t read any signs, and have multi-level buildings that aren’t open and laid out in ways I’m used to) – and had a peek at the Lenovo offerings.
With a few hours to go before my flight, there was one shopping area I wanted to go to that I’d seen mentioned online, and was even on the map the hotel provided named “Zhong Guan Chun Electronics”. I hailed a taxi and showed the driver on the map where I wanted to go. He seemed to study it for a while confused, but eventually settled on putting something into his GPS and getting there.
He seemed friendly and tried to talk to me, but the language barrier was too much. I thought this was a good opportunity to try a translation app – Google Translate I had ready to go, and after a few attempts we were talking back and forth using it’s ‘live’ option. It seemed sketchy, as it claimed he said that he knew the family that owned the shop we were going to and they were good people, which wasn’t really a fitting response to whatever I’d asked.
The driver ended up dropping me off and pointing me at a large building. I went in, but it was another department store. Having a slight headache, I took the opportunity to have Starbuck’s seasonally flavoured Toffee Nut Molten Latte with some ibruprofen and work out where I was actually headed. After some searching, I worked out I need to be 1 kilometre down the road – so off I set, with very little idea on what I was looking for.
Google Maps lead me to an enterance of the corner of a building that looked shut down – but I saw some other people enter, so confidently followed them. Once in, they walked up some inoperational escalators, where someone asked me something in Chinese. Out came the translator app again, and they pointed me up the stairs. At the top was a long corridor of people fixing laptops in a reasonably run down looking area – I had little idea where to go. The man pointed me around a corner, and before me all I could see was booth after booth of computer parts:
I wandered around for a while – found a phone cover store where I bought my wife a cover for about $7AU. It looked like a lot of families lived here. Each shop had it’s speciality – some had strangely plastic sealed but open laptops – but most were PC parts. I went up and down about 4 floors that all looked the same. I think the place I ended up was called ‘Hailong Electronics City’ and I found this YouTube walkthrough video which I’m pretty sure is where I was:
I didn’t buy much else, but found a couple of shops on the bottom floor and bought a few more items to take home, along with a supermarket where I stocked up on Chinese food – like Lychee flavoured Hershey’s chocolate bars.
It was time to head to the airport for the long tip home. I wandered around a bit, and came across karaoke booths in the airport – I guess a good way to pass the time while waiting for your plane.
And that was it, the trip was over. It was truly an experience I won’t forget both technologically, culturally and socially. I’m very grateful for the people I had the fortune of experiencing this with, Lenovo for sending us and letting us share the experience with others, and of course my family for letting me go for a week!
Again, here’s my Twitter feed for the last of the trip which should contain things I forgot about!:
Day 5 of the #LenovoTechWorld trip and the tech side is over sorry. Today it’ll be tourist things – so I’ll again use this thread when there’s cool stuff to share. For now, it’s breakfast time, and even the sugar in China sounds better #LenovoIN #SponsoredTrip pic.twitter.com/VMr0Pyy0pc— Adam Fowler (@AdamFowler_IT) November 15, 2019